5 cancers with the best 5-year survival rates

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5 cancers with the best 5-year survival rates

One of the most defining moments of any person’s life is to hear the words, “You have cancer.” This life-altering declaration can be one of the scariest things to comprehend as your thoughts turn to how it will be treated and conquered.  This is why commonly right after those words are spoken one of the first questions people often ask is “What are my chances for survival?”

Even though there are no guarantees when it comes to cancer survival, what is known is that cancer patients’ survival prospects are improving.  In the past 20 years, there has been greater success in finding and treating certain types of the disease in particular.  Using the word “cure” is not taken lightly since it can never be completely known if a cancer will go away not to return for good.  Instead the preferred word to use is “remission” meaning after a patient has gone through treatment, there are no signs of the cancer remaining but there is always a chance the disease could return.

To determine the odds of survival for each different type of cancer, doctors refer to the 5-year survival rate.  This is the percentage of people who have been cancer-free for 5 years after diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society.  Patients may still die from cancer or have cancerous cells in their body, but they have better odds of recovery. 

Once a person reaches that 5-year survival benchmark, it does not mean you are necessarily free and clear from cancer ever returning but it is a good sign.  The more years that go by of being cancer free, the more likely your odds improve of staying that way.

Here are five cancers which have the strongest hope for recovery having strong 5-year survival rates:

1.  Prostate Cancer – 5-year survival rate: About 99%

Prostate tumors are among one of the slowest growing cancers of any.  Most of these tumors found are usually contained within the prostate with many determined not harmful enough to require treatment allowing men to lead a normal life without any complications. However, that does not mean men should ignore getting checked for prostate cancer especially as they get older.  According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer develops mainly in older men and African-American men with about 6 cases in 10 diagnosed in men aged 65 or older and it is rare before age 40.  The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66. 

The two main ways of checking for prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam and a blood test called a PSA test or prostate specific antigen.  The PSA test measures levels of a protein that is often higher in men with prostate cancer. 

For the year 2018, about 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed with about 29,430 men dying from it. 

If prostate cancer metastasizes or spreads beyond the prostate gland, then it is much harder to treat.  A small percentage of prostate cancers can move quickly to distant parts of the body.  If that happens, only about 29% of men live 5 years after diagnosis.  The good news is that doctors usually catch most prostate cancers early before they spread. 

2.  Cervical Cancer – 5-year survival rate: About 100 percent

One of the most treatable cancers is cervical cancer.  This is mainly due to the Pap test which is one of the most effective methods available to detect this cancer. Cervical cancer death rates have dropped significantly with the increased use of this test. What makes the Pap test so effective is that it can detect the presence of abnormal cells on the cervix before they are even cancerous.  Even if cancer cells are found on the cervix, they grow at a very slow rate.  If these cells are diagnosed at a precancerous stage, they can be treated before they develop and spread.   

3.  Testicular Cancer – 5-year survival rate:  About 95.3 percent

When found in its earliest stages (when the tumor has not spread beyond the testicles), doctors can cure this cancer with surgery to remove one or both testicles containing the tumor. Generally, most men have one testicle removed leaving the other testicle to produce enough hormones to have sex and reproduce.  If the cancer is found at a later stage, surgery along with radiation or chemotherapy can be effective in eliminating cancer cells.

One of the reasons why testicular cancer has seen major increases in survival rates over the years is partly due to the approval of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin in 1978 which boosted survival rates.

Since there are no screening tests for testicular cancer, men should do a testicular cancer self-examination as the earlier it is found, the greater the chances for survival. 

4.  Thyroid cancer (depending on tissue type) – 5-year survival rate: About 99 percent

This butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck helps produce hormones the body needs to burn calories and for other bodily functions.  Papillary is the most common type of thyroid cancer which grows very slowly.  Even if the tumors are large or begin to grow into other nearby tissue, they can be treated and even cured with surgery by removing the gland.  Once the gland is removed, patients take medicine to replace the hormones the thyroid once made. 

There is no recommended screening test for thyroid cancer.  Either a doctor or the person themselves will discover the tumor if they feel a lump or swelling in their neck.  Anytime a person feels a lump or notices swelling in their neck or has trouble breathing or swallowing, should see their doctor as soon as possible to have it diagnosed. 

5.  Breast Cancer – (early stages of 0 and 1) – 5 –year survival rate: 100 percent

If there is one thing to be said about modern medicine is that it has made great strides against the fight of breast cancer.  Today, there are better methods for detection and treatment than what was available in the past.  When breast cancer is found in its earliest beginnings, it is easily treated putting it into remission than after it has begun to spread. 

There are two types of stage 0 in breast cancer: ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which occurs when breast cells develop in the breast ducts; and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), which occurs when abnormal cells develop in the lobules.  In breast cancer stage 1, it is very treatable and survivable with the survival rate similar to stage 0 which is 100 percent, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

It is important for all women to have regular mammograms starting at age 45, according to the American Cancer Society with those ages 40-44 having the choice to begin yearly mammograms if they choose to do so.     

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